The Olympic dream may have been put on hold, but Jake Birtwhistle knows there are a lot worse places he could be right now than in self-isolation on a Tasmanian beach.
He narrowly escaped from three of them.
Australia's top-ranked triathlete was a day away from travelling to the UAE before the coronavirus took hold there, left Spain just before it went into lockdown and flew home from Florida as America's estimated death toll began to skyrocket.
But as he reflected on the unprecedented crisis from his family's shack at Greens Beach, Birtwhistle said returning to his home state when he should be preparing for a maiden Olympic Games was "a blessing in disguise".
"I don't mind being home," he said. "I'll ride the rollercoaster until it's done and then it will be back to business as usual."
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One of Tasmania's most widely-travelled sportsmen, the 25-year-old was training in the Canary Islands off West Africa preparing for the opening two rounds of the World Triathlon Series when the first signs of the pandemic began to emerge.
"We were a day out from going to Abu Dhabi when that race was called off.
"This was all very fresh then so at the time it was a shock and we thought a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. But since then a lot has happened and the situation has snowballed out of control."
The Launceston-born former junior triathlon and cross-country running world champion flew to the Spanish city of Girona but decided to relocate to the US to continue training ahead of the second WTS round in Bermuda.
But as the worldwide crisis escalated and the Bermuda event was also postponed, Birtwhistle felt it was time to come home.
"It was a no-brainer to get home, get settled, stay healthy and go from there.
"I did not want to be stuck in the US so did not have much of an option.
"I arrived the day before the Prime Minister declared the latest level of restrictions which meant I would have had to come home the next day anyway.
I'll ride the rollercoaster until it's doneJake Birtwhistle
"I was planning to self-isolate for two weeks anyway which is what I'm doing now and as the Olympic Games are not going to happen this year we don't really know what we're doing."
Some well-planned logistics from his family enabled Birtwhistle to bunker down on the scenic north coast.
"We did a car swap at the airport. Mum and Dad drove out and left a car there for me so I just saw them from a distance.
"I went straight to the family shack and Mum had been down the day before and stocked up the fridge and pantry so it was a smooth transition and I'm pretty fortunate we have this place so that I can self-isolate."
The dual 2018 Commonwealth Games medallist, who finished third and sixth in the last two WTS campaigns, had also planned ahead to keep training. However, the International Olympic Committee's decision to postpone the Games until 2021 prompted a change of mindset.
"I knew I would have to keep training so my agent and Triathlon Australia organised some equipment so I have a treadmill and bike trainer plus I am 20 metres from the ocean so can still do everything I need to.
"But it's hard to be training when you have nothing to train for so I may back off and take things easy for a week or so.
"My training plan now is just as I feel I want to. There's not really many goals to work towards so it's a good opportunity to refresh before we know what's going on and then start again."
Birtwhistle is among several Tasmanian Olympic hopefuls rebooting their training schedules in the wake of the virus and subsequent postponements and cancellations.
Cyclist Richie Porte chose to bunker down with his wife and son in Monaco but most athletes have opted to head home and self-isolate.
Having controversially missed selection to the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, Birtwhistle is taking a philosophical approach to seeing another Olympic plan scuttled.
"It does not really worry me too much," he said.
"I'm still motivated to do what I do but there are more important things to take care of right now than sport.
"In the last five years I have not stayed down here because over summer I am always focused on training, so it's nice to have an excuse to spend time here.
"Everything is happening so fast at the moment that you don't have to wait long before it gets updated but at this point I have no plans on leaving Tasmania.
"If there's an event on and it's safe to travel and the virus is less of a threat then maybe, but it's pretty clear that's not going to be any time soon so I have no plans and I'm actually pretty happy about that."
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